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FarmVille Jamaica socialising with a difference

Published:Saturday | April 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Thetford Great House at Bushy Park, St Catherine, is the centrepiece of FarmVille Jamaica Live, a social farming club in which farmers meet to strike a balance between food awareness and networking. - Photos by Paul Williams
Tyrone McDonald, property manager at FarmVille Jamaica Live, is the man who takes care of the farm daily, while the owners of the plots are busy elsewhere.
One of the features at FarmVille Jamaica Live, located at Thetford Great House in Bushy Park, St Catherine, is the dirt track for motor racing, which is available for rental.
Garfield Walters, a visitor to FarmVille, bites into a sweet corn grown on the property of the social farm club at Bushy Park, St Catherine.

Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer

BUSHY PARK, St Catherine: PUT DOWN the mouse and the keyboard, and give those social network sites a break, for there is a new place for socialising in town, well not exactly. It's at the Thetford Great House and Farm, in Bushy Park, St Catherine, and is called FarmVille Jamaica Live, a social farming club, whose objective is to create an awareness of the importance of agriculture and the need for food security, and networking among participating farmers.

"FarmVille Jamaica Live is a new and innovative social farming club that consists of different activities aimed to get persons living in Jamaica and other countries involved in farming," the website says. It continues: "FarmVille Jamaica Live will teach participants and the public more about agriculture through an interactive farming programme."

"The objectives are to bring something new and dynamic to the Jamaican market that will benefit the members of the farming club and the agriculture industry, and to strongly endorse the Go Green global campaign."

It is not really about profits, as it is not farming on a large scale. The participants are being offered the opportunity to plant, grow and reap different crops while socialising with other farmers. "They will learn where food come from and how those products get from the farm to their dinner plates while having fun," FarmVille said.

monthly lease

This family-operated venture caters to three types of farmers, active, absentee and global, who pay a monthly lease and maintenance fee of $1,000, $1,500, and US$20, respectively per 10x10 plot. The registration fee is $500, and US$10 for global farmers. The plots may also be leased for three, six or 12 months. A 10 per cent discount for every plot leased is offered to companies leasing a large number of plots. All fees are non-refundable, and there will be an additional charge for seeds and fertilisers.

While it is expected that farmers will tend to their crops at least once weekly, absentee farmers can arrange for their crops to be reaped on their behalf and delivered. They have the option of taking home their produce, bartering excess with others farmers or selling their crops, which could be watermelon, peanuts, corn, sweet pepper, sweet corn, red peas, callaloo, pumpkin, cucumber, sorrel, okra, tomatoes, ginger, carrot, onions, and potatoes.

Smack in the heart of the sprawling property is the fairly preserved Thetford Great House, on a hill from which there is a panoramic view of the lands around it and beyond. A river runs by the property which also has a dirt and drag racetrack, which is available for rental.

A major feature of FarmVille is Farm Vibes on Sundays, where there is a series of fun and game activities, such as farm tours, dominoes, cards, chess and other board games, treasure hunts, motor sports, bicycle and quad rides, races around the property, not to mention the most exciting of them all, drifting.

"Persons are invited to spend Sundays in a new and innovative way, farming and having fun with no worries about food and refreshments, as they are always available," Kevin Scott, one of the directors, said.

According to Scott, "There are plans to renovate Thetford Great House and also to upgrade the track, and add other attractions to provide an agrotourism product." The plans include the construction of log cabins for stay-overs.

For more information:

visit: or the Farmville Jamaica Live office at 94N Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, or call 978-6088 or fax-927-9448 between the hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.